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Four of Paris’ hidden gems

Posted by Katy Peck on 24 January 2019
Related property: Le Mont De St Simeon
Four of Paris’ hidden gems

What do you think of when you think of Paris? The Eiffel tower or Arc de Triomphe? Perhaps a leisurely boat ride down the Seine or a visit to the Louvre? If you’re a regular visitor to our Le Mont de St Siméon property, just an hour outside of Paris, you’ve probably done all of this and more.

Paris is a dynamic city, full of surprises and hidden gems, which is why we wanted to share a few of our favourites. We’ve chosen four sights and activities slightly off the beaten track, and yet very much worth discovering once you’ve ticked the major landmarks off your list. From one-of-a-kind museums to secret beauty spots, you might be surprised by how much you still have to discover!


La Petite Ceinture

La Petite Ceintrure (Little Belt) is a long-abandoned train track, built over a century ago around the edge of Paris. Today, plants and vegetation have grown up over the tracks, turning it into an unexpected sanctuary of quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. For those keen to discover more of the hidden Paris, or just trade the busy city for a quiet, leafy walk, it’s a must-see.

There are several sections of the track which are open to the public. The first was opened to walkers in 2007, and is located in the 16th arrondissement (Parisian borough) between the Porte d’Auteuil and the Gare de la Muette. This section is best for those who are less physically able, as there are accessibility lifts and wheelchairs which have been specially adapted for the uneven terrain.

Other sections of La Petite Ceintrure include;

  • A section in the 12th arrondissement, with a 200-metre long nature trail and a shared garden, is accessible from 21 Rue Rottembourg.

  • Another 1.5km long section can be found in the 15th arrondissement, between the Place Balard and the Rue Olivier de Serres. Find the entrance at 99 Rue Olivier de Serres.

  • Finally, the last section in 13th arrondissement, with access at 60 Rue Damesme.

La Petite Ceintrure is free to visit. Find the opening times of these official sections here.

The tracks are a haven for a range of wild flowers and fauna; there are more than 200 species of plants and 70 animal species that call La Petite Ceintrure home. It’s used as a throughway by a great deal of Paris’ wildlife, so who knows what you might discover!

If you need to refuel after your walk, try Le REcyclerie, based inside one of the old stations. Here you can enjoy a famous Parisian coffee or glass of wine. or even grab a light bite while you sit outside and enjoy this little oasis in the middle of Paris.

Musée du Vin

If there’s one thing you can’t (and shouldn’t) miss during a visit to Paris, it’s the wine. But for those of us whose interest goes beyond enjoying a glass in a Parisian café, the Musée du Vin is a not to be missed. Located not far from the Eiffel tower, this little gem is tucked away in a 15th Century vaulted cellar, formerly used by the monks of the Passy Monastery for storing their wine, and is full of curiosities for wine-lovers.

The museum was initially set up by the Echansons Council of France, who still work to protect and promote French wines throughout the world. The museum was chosen as their headquarters in 1984, where they put together a collection of wine-related exhibits for the public to enjoy.

Today they have over 2,200 items on display, demonstrating the production of wine from the 15th Century to the modern day. From ancient and rare bottles, to various designs of corkscrews and production implements – it’s a real delight for oenophiles. There are also numerous facts hidden around the museum which might surprise even the most knowledgeable experts! The museum takes between 1 and 2 hours to peruse, and you can even finish with a complementary glass of their much-loved red.

Last but certainly not least, the wine museum offers wine tasting classes, from a simple tasting of 3 types of wine to a ‘black glasses’ workshop, where you can really put your knowledge to the test by removing your sense of sight. You can also enjoy a delicious meal in their restaurant, either with or without matched wines! More information on prices and availability can be found here.

Paris Point Zero

Notre-Dame may be one of the most recognisable sights in Paris, but there’s a tiny slab just outside the famous Cathedral which is also well-worth seeking out. This small marker is known as ‘Paris Point Zero’, and is the distance from Paris from which all other places are judged. All guide books, road signs, town distances and so on are said to be calculated from this unassuming spot.

Point Zero is the supposed exact centre of the city, and is recognised by a simple octagonal brass plate, set into the concrete. Inlaid into the stone are the words ‘Point Zero des routes de France’, which translates to ‘Point Zero of the roads of France’.

There are a number of local rituals based around Point Zero, including throwing coins into the slightly concave marker as a kind of makeshift wishing well. Another tradition says that spinning around with one foot on the marker will grant your heart’s desire, while others say that kissing a loved one above the plate is a sure-fire way to ensure eternal devotion. Finally, many insist that standing upon Point Zero means you are sure to return to Paris… it’s certainly worth a try!

Marché Georges Brassens

For the bibliophiles out there, no trip to Paris is complete without a visit to Marché Georges Brassens. Next to the delightful Parc Georges Brassens in the 15th arrondissement, you’ll find over 60 vendors selling an unmatched collection of second-hand and antique books.

Set beneath the fabulous arches of an old slaughterhouse, the market is held every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year, rain or shine. Some booksellers arrive every week to share their wares, while others come and go, so you can sure to find a unique selection every time you visit.  The market is now known as the place to go for both amateur and professional book collectors.

Hidden under the arches, you can find a fantastic selection of books, from antique volumes dating back to 1815, to out-of-print editions and more mass-market texts. Many have delicate illustrations and engravings or vintage leather bindings, while others still bear notes and annotations from readers and authors – a real glimpse into the past. Most of the books on sale are French, but you’ll also find the odd English volume nestled in the collections, and prices can range from €1 for a paperback book, to €5 for a hardback edition. Of course, if you’re after rare and elusive collectors’ editions, you can expect to pay much more!

Paris is a beautiful city overflowing with things to discover. From the famous attractions we all know and love, to the hidden secrets off the beaten track, there’s plenty to explore. For a break that combines the hustle and bustle of this fantastic city with the quiet country lanes and medieval towns of rural France, look no further than a stay at our beautiful St Siméon property. After a long day discovering everything Paris has to offer, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind.

To learn more about how you can enjoy a stay at Le Mont de St Siméon, as well as our other properties in France and beyond, simply get in touch with our expert team.

Katy Peck

Katy Peck

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